Cutting My Comb
(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)
Have I been too harsh on Sean Newcomb? After going 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 1 BBs, 8 Ks last night against the Mets, he’s now sporting a 3.38 ERA, 29.0% K rate, and 1.27 WHIP, with a solid 3.57 SIERA to his name. I’m impressed by his 64.8% F-Strike rate (though the 10.3% BB rate is still elevated) and a massive bump in soft contact from 17.5% to 26.1% this season. My concerns have always been rooted in that high walk rate stemming from a near-exclusive two-pitch mix. His curveball has always been a money maker, but it can’t be effective without heat batters respect and 2017 showed off a mediocre fastball. 2018 has been a bit different, reducing its line drive from 32.0% to just 15.0% thus far, holding batters to just a .222 average. The sample size is still small with just six starts thus far, though with Newcomb’s ability to rack up strikeouts and improved batted ball numbers, I need to give him a sizeable jump on Monday. Nothing too crazy, but 50-60s should suit him well.
Let’s see how every other SP did Wednesday:
Jacob deGrom – 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. deGrom was removed from this one after hyperextending his elbow while striking out at the plate. #AddTheDH. This sucks for plenty of reasons, especially since he’s been pitching as well as ever. The good news here is that this could be a relatively swift recovery, but we won’t know until he’s given the time to heal over the next few days. I can feel the sweat and piercing gazes at the clock.
Aaron Nola – 7.1 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Aces gonna ace. I love Nola day.
James Paxton – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 16 Ks. Whooooaaaa. Big Maple had himself a day and what you don’t see here is that he had 31 whiffs – THIRTY FREAKIN’ ONE – including 24 just with four-seamers. In fact, he threw the pitch nearly 80% of the time, spotting it so well up-and-in to right-handers as the A’s could do absolutely nothing with the 97mph heat. Yes, he earns a Gallows Pole – I wonder if I should give a title for the Gallows of Gallows Poles – and any questions you had about Paxton starting off slowly in April should be purged.
Fernando Romero – 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. Yesterday was a great day on the site as we had not one but two of my favorite articles – GIF Breakdowns of MLB debuts. Andy Patton gave his two cents on Romero’s start here and I agree with his overall sentiment. The stuff is a bit raw at the moment from Romero, featuring a hard mid-to-upper 90s four-seamer he can spot well and a two-seamer that has great movement but questionable command. His secondary pitches lack polish as well, with a changeup that could turn into a deadly weapon and a slider that rotates between weak cutting action and vicious sweeping bend. It’s easy to spot the allure of Romero, though in re-draft leagues I have to express caution as he looks very susceptible to a blow-up given his lack of polish. I’ll be watching this one closely.
Hyun-Jin Ryu – 1.1 IP, 0 ER, 1 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. I joke about Ryu getting hurt all the time and BAM he left this one with a strained groin. Ouch, that sounds so painful. Sorry fella. He’ll be out for some time, making Walker Buehler’s status inside the rotation awfully secure. Grab him over the other recent call-ups as his spot looks plenty more secure.
Luis Severino – 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 10 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Welp, looks like I can’t give Verlander the #5 spot just yet.
Zack Godley – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 3 BBs, 5 Ks. I’m totally cool with this, but is it wrong that I wanted a slightly lower WHIP and maybe one or two more Ks? I feel like I haven’t been able to really buy into my #21 ranking of Godley from the preseason just yet and that makes me uncomfortable. I want to keep the faith, just give me a miracle, Zack.
Andrew Heaney – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 2 Ks. This was…surprisingly from Heaney after fanning 9 Yankee batters but then the free-swinging Orioles only whiffed seven times. You can go ahead and drop Heaney now as he gets Coors + Astros next, but make a note to pick him up around May 20th after that whole ordeal. Streaming Record: 18-11.
Carlos Martinez – 7.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Aces gonna ace. Seriously, we have to jot this down for next year when CarMart struggles in his first start of the season.
Wade Miley – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks. If you trust Miley after this, he’s going to demolish your team like a wrecking ball. Let me get that one out of my system so we’ll never see it again.
Jose Urena – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. This is back-to-back 7 IP, 1 ER starts from Urena and you’re thinking about picking him up. Don’t. Seriously. Don’t. (Should I call that DSD?) 40% and 50% hard contact in each of these “good” starts, 43.1% hard and just 13.8% soft for the year, a 4.18 SIERA, and a sub 20% K rate. This is Urena. This is disappointment. This is CNN.
Brett Anderson – 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Awwww, after 5 years of being apart, Anderson finally returned to Oakland. And he didn’t suck in his first start. This is a lovely honeymoon, but they will royally hate each other soon.
Tyler Anderson – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 Hits, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. This is getting kinda nuts. Anderson was removed during the previous start due to a “heartbeat issue” and I didn’t even include him in The List on Monday as it seemed like he wouldn’t make this outing. Then he crushed it against the Cubs, bumping his K% to a whopping 26.4% mark and earning a 2.03 ERA in his last six starts. I don’t believe that Anderson is a Top 50 arm. I looked into his pitches to find the anomaly this year – it’s his cutter being used as a strike-getting and changeup getting more whiffs – and while it’s working now, I’m not sold it will stay this way. Coors does things as well – 4/6 of these starts were on the road – so we have to play this on a start-by-start basis. He hosts the Angels next before heading to Sans of Diego and Fran, and I’d be hesitant to let him loose against Trout & friends. Totally down for the two starts after, though.
Luis Castillo – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 Hits, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Okay this is better. I’m still waiting, of course, and his fastball velocity was still not where it was last year, but seeing 21 whiffs overall with better fastball command is certainly encouraging. Still proceed with caution here.
Michael Fulmer – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. After his monstrous whiff game against the Pirates, he only registered 9 in 108 pitches here, with just 4 on 37 slide pieces and 4 on fastballs. Blegh. However, he still gave you a good outing because Fulmer is a legit pitcher and you should still want to own him.
Blake Snell – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Snell, I’m cool with this start n all but your breaking ball count was comfortably under 30% as you turned to changeups again and it’s part of the reason you only had four Ks. You do you, I guess, but for the rest of us we’d all love you to keep doing what you did before this one, you know?
Stephen Strasburg – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 11 Ks. Aces gonna ace. His fastball is still the pitch in question, but 23 whiffs on 104 pitches is crazy. Bad news here is that it wasn’t enough to win a Gallows Pole with Mr. Paxton going nuts with 30+. First Harper, then Scherzer, and now Paxton. Always getting overshadowed, you know?
Marcus Stroman – 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 Hits, 1 BBs, 5 Ks. You will take this from Stroman any day of the week – even Mondays! – and I’m still a believer that he can be more beneficial than destructive. I’m not taking off his mini-TIARA just yet, though.
Lucas Giolito – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. Hey! There goes Giolito having a solid outing! His slider worked plenty well in this one… Why did you slow down. I want to hear more nice things about Gioltio. WHAT AREN’T YOU SAYING. His fastball velocity was still under 92mph. NOOOOOOOO.
Derek Holland – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. I hope you were killed by The Dutch Invasion, but for those in super deep leagues should be happy with Johnny Cueto’s injury that preserves Holland’s spot in the rotation. For now because let me tell you, reinforcements are coming and the people want their land back. YOU SHALL NOT PASS THE DUTCHIE!
Dallas Keuchel – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. I’m cool with this from Keuchel, whose only blemish was a pair of swats from Giancarlo Stanton. I think he gets better and more consistent over the year, stay with this.
Corey Kluber – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 Hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. Aces kinda gonna ace. Kluber, buddy, pal, I want to be convinced that you deserve the #3 spot, but you’re not giving me what I want.
Drew Pomeranz – 6.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 Hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. It’s a VVPQS from The Dirty Cheerleader…without the strikeouts you pay him for. This is poor all around save for the “W” that acts as a participant trophy and I’d rather go after Spice Girls like Soroka, Kingham, Ross, etc. than roster Pomeranz.
Dylan Bundy – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. After averaging over 92mph in this first six starts, Bundy hovered 90.5mph in this one and it showed. Not only was the velocity down, but his fastball command was also terrible and suddenly, after five starts of keeping it together with his heater, he’s lost it for two straight. It’s not the end of the world – he’s been known to go through phases with his heater – and it could easily come back next time or the one after, but I was hoping that these blips were becoming more of a thing of the past and I have to bake in these valleys with the total package.
Yu Darvish – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 Hits, 3 BBs, 8 Ks. I wonder if there has been a more frustrating pitcher to own this year than Darvish. There was no time for us to even consider Darvish spinning a solid one here, allowing four runs in the first three innings and forcing us to down two Asprin for the pain. He’s now allowed 19 ER total in four of his six starts, though his 26.4% K rate and 4.06 SIERA make us think that better times are ahead. Okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but the point is he hasn’t been as bad as the numbers tell you, while you can fathom that Darvish would make an adjustment and suddenly provide legit Top 25 value again. I’ll say this. There will be a time when Darvish clicks and goes on a beautiful run this season. That’s going to happen. Is that stretch worth those nights stressing about each outing hoping that he doesn’t kill your week? For your sanity, no. Play the market, see if you can get a decent return back and be free. If not, just hold and wait to sell another day.
Danny Duffy – 6.2 IP, 5 ER, 10 Hits, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. This one actually started out well with Duffy cruising through three innings…then Mookie Betts happened, slugging three solo shots over the next four innings. There’s more to this one going south than just Mookie, but it was a pretty easy sit for Duffy given his struggles + the Sawx n all. I’m okay starting his against the Orioles and I think Duffy does turn into a decent arm later in the year, but right now I have zero qualms with anyone dropping him…if you haven’t already.
Ivan Nova – 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. Yeah this is bad and it’s the risk you run with Nova. On the other hand, the Nats might be the toughest matchup Nova gets for a bit, slated to face the ChiSox twice and Padres next. I think you’re okay streaming through that and now you may get that chance if his current owner dropped him following this Marv. A Marv? You know, a brick to the face. A clunker. A massive red spot on your head. A headache. Oh a Maaaaarv.
Clayton Richard – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 Hits, 4 BBs, 6 Ks. It’s the wrong Clayton!
Matt Moore – 4.0 IP, 10 ER, 11 Hits, 2 BBs, 1 Ks. Congratulations Moore, you’re officially The WHERST of the 2018 season, earning a score 23 for this sparkling performance. I guess we should call you Matt Moor given how we don’t want to spend a single moment around you.
None – Seriously, I stared at this horrid short slate of pitchers and I can’t in good faith suggest someone. Just skip it.
Nick Kingham vs. Milwaukee Brewers – Why not, right? He’s getting the start and while I could go Ian Kennedy against the Tigers, Daniel Mengden against the Orioles, or Zack Wheeler hosting the Rockies, I’m going with the fun one here.
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